2-07/08-04 - A weekend of fishing-related non-fishing
fun - The
Tinley Park Fishing & Outdoor Show 2004.
Yeah, it's not a fishin' report, so what?!
It's a bunch of links, info and opinions for the folks who coulnd't
make it! As promised in last week's report, I didn't get to fish
this weekend! Instead, I was helpin' FAT out at the FAT BOOTH (www.fishinfatman.com)!
Talk about a show to go to, well, maybe not if you're an AVID fly
guy, but for the general fishin' population, absolutely! Granted,
the show is all for charity! How can you not go?
Not too surprisingly, I didn't spend a lot of time
viewing the show; the majority of my day was filled with fly tyin'
at the FAT Booth and just general chattin' with folks about fly
fishin. I'm warm & getting all stocked up for spring fishin'
flies while my buddies are out there chasin' cold steel...hmm....hard
to say who had the better weekend!
For you fly guys, here are some of the highlights.
First, there was the kid's trout pond which was sponsored by the
Cook County...if the trout in there were indicative of the size
that Illinois is stocking in April, well, I just might have to renew
my IL license and trout stamp afterall!
Then there was a bit of recognition for the FAT
Tribe; So we're sitting in Fat's booth at the Tinley Park Fishing
and Outdoor's Show on Sunday afternoon; the show's head hancho (Rich
Komar), walks up to the booth and more-or-less says to FAT, "Rich,
we uh, need to talk for a second..." Last I checked nothing good
ever follows those words!
This time though, those words were followed by,
"The ladies all got together and decided to select your booth as
the 2004 Best in Show...congratulations." So congrats to my
buddy Rich, especially considering he did the whole booth himself
(well, Mom Fat did the booth skirt!).
Next on my list I have to bring up the ONLY Fly
Rod Manufacturer at the show, and by far one of the best surprises
so far in 2004; Route
37 Fly Fishing Company, LLC! They just got their start back
in August of 2003 and already have received "Best
Value" award from TackleTour.com
for their Nooksack line of fly rods.
Now you already know I've put you onto some great
sources for custom rods, and I stand behind my recommendation that
folks like Justin Pratt (Alaskan
Rod Crafters) and Dave Dyer (Creekside
Outfitters) as two of the best places to get a one-of-a-kind
rod at an extremely affordable price. However, a custom rod isn't
necessarily for everyone..i.e. the new fly fisher, or someone who
only wants to own one rod.
As you know, there is a downside to everything,
including a custom-built rod. Build it yourself and trust me, your
first is going to suck. Have it built, and well, if you break it
no matter how great the service is, it is often a "get in line"
for repairs. The guy who can only afford one rod needs a different
And that's where the guys at Route 37 come in.
First, I have to say I couldn't have met nicer guys; I didn't get
nearly enough time as I would have liked to talk with Eric Lubbers
& Matt Vriesenga; hopefully we'll get them out to Iowa sometime
this summer for some Trout Fishin' and campfire feasting! This is
one pair of guys, and their company, that I'd like to see around
for a long time!
So here's my point of view...Route 37 is the type
of company that's poised to make Orvis & St. Croix shake in
their boots. While the rumors float around that the big boys are
crackin' down on their "Lifetime Warranties" or flat out
giving them up (I just checked, Orvis is now down to a 25 year warranty),
that was the first point Matt brought up; the guy who puts out a
couple hundred bucks on a rod should have a great guarantee behind
it. Should something ever go wrong, that rod should be replaced
Now, as I've been told both Orvis and St. Croix
get high marks for fast warranty / repair service...although occasionally
you can run into the "big boy" buearocracy So another
fly rod manufacturer with a "lifetime warranty" isn't
going to send the big guys running while Route 37 is breathing down
It's the value. Bar-none, Matt & Eric filled
me in on their entire development process. I laugh when I think
how they mentioned they have tons of rods sitting around that they'll
never use and never sell. Having built 5 rods so far myself just
over this winter, from all my component shopping I've really learned
a lot more about what goes into, or maybe rather what doesn't go
into a big manufacturer's rods.
In the Route 37 rods, the component quality compared
to the retail price on these rods is astonishing...these are FREAKIN'
GREAT values compared to what you'll find from the better known
guys. Lets put it this way, I'm eyeing the Winesap Series and adding
up the components in a 7' rod....let's see...$35 in GUIDES alone...a
$50 grip...a quality blank that'd sell for $75, wait that's already
around $150 just in the components if I built it myself..and I don't
give myself a lifetime warranty! Bottom line, I could look at a
St. Croix AVID for about the same price...the components alone on
the Winesap Series blow the St. Croix Avid out of the water. Don't
even get me started on the Orvis comparison. Now I must admit, I
haven't cast a Route 37 rod yet. In many respect I don't need to;
I have some similar rods. I know that these are GOOD RODS that should
cast great, ESPECIALLY their Trout rods, and especially for the
Fly Angler who maybe is just graduating off that $50 Bass Pro Rod
(which are pretty darn good to start).
Some of you may have also come across another "Value-Oriented"
Fly Rod company in the last year...Temple Fork. NICE RODS too. I
was impressed the first time I saw a Temple Fork. However, I challenge
you to compare a Temple Fork TiCR with the Route 37 Winesap and
come to your own conclusions! Temple Fork has a "Big Name"
behind them; Route 37 has what may soon be TWO big names standing
behind the absolute best value for your dollar when looking for
that "nice commercial rod". Bottom line; Route 37 rods
are custom-built quality minus the custom-built "customization",
but with brand-name backing and excellent retail value.
OK, so now that I've honestly gushed a lot, I know,
about Route 37, I cannot fail to draw your attention to Rich's buddies;
Tom Greenup (Ashegon
Lake Resort and Guide Service), John Motroni (Rod
Cases & Flies by Motroni) and Drake Williams (Drake's
Taxidermy & Guide Service). I was lucky enough to share
dinner with these guys on Saturday; man I was the thinnest one there,
and yet I swear they kept stackin' my plate full of pizza and my
beer never went empty...without a doubt they were trying to help
me outgrow my show nickname ("Littleman"). I am pretty
sure that inadvertently I probably chowed down more than everyone
(I think the cruelest joke was when the put the last of 8 deep-dish
slices on my plate after emphatic refusals on my part)! We had a
great evening of drinkin', eatin' & fish stories. I got to spend
a little more time with the pack at their booths on Sunday.
Drake's taxidermy & replica work is great;
not to mention he holds a few world records to boot. Tom's Ashegon
Lake Resort, well, there may have been "nicer booths"
at the show when you consider all the Northwood's folks who were
there, but all it took was one look through the scrapbook and I
have to say Ashegon looks like heaven to me (don't even get me started
on the brookies they caught right from their dock)! I didn't get
the opportunity to see John's rod cases, but the inventive fly patterns
were sweet! Sometimes in a world of Orvis-Endorsed once-a-year fly
fishing clients folks overlook the fact that it's the people who
make the experience what it is, and these three guys are NOT going
to let you down! I promise to all of you that I'll make the effort
to take them up on their invite and fish up north this year...it'd
be one fantastic report! And of course, my invitation is always
extended to them to join me on the river; hopefully I won't have
to wait yet another year to hang with these guys again!
There was SO much more at the show that I haven't included. I gotta
give a shout to Fuzzy Bear
Charters, one of our Booth Neighbors this weekend. They spent
the evening running downrigger video (SWEET), taping spoons (COOL)
and at times entertaining the young FAT Tribe member who tagged
along for the weekend; THANKS GUYS! Also to our other neighbor Jim;
honestly Jim, I don't have a clue what your business's name is...it
just goes to show that when you're stuck in the booth you don't
get nearly enough time to see and do everything you should have!
And I can't forget to mention the guy who had some sweet Pike /
Salmon jigflies...but darnit I didn't get a card or anything!
Of course, I can't write a report without talking some smack, right?
So here it is; to all you Fly-Fishing Companies who ignore setting
up shop at a show like this....
Next week, if we're lucky and the weather cooperates, I'll spend
a day in Iowa and then make it back right on time for the ICE CLAVE!!!!